Florida woman hacked flight system, cleared planes with maintenance issues to fly, police say

Florida

Brevard County Sheriff’s Office

TAMPA (WESH) – A Brevard County woman is facing a string of charges after she allegedly hacked into the computer system at Melbourne Flight Training.

Authorities first knew something was wrong on Jan 12, 2020, when the CEO of MFT, Derek Fallon, logged into the Flight Training computer and noticed multiple things were off. He said the make/model/tail numbers had been deleted for 12 airplanes. Aircrafts that had been flagged as having maintenance issues had been “cleared.”

An affidavit states, “meaning aircraft which may have been unsafe to fly were purposely made ‘airworthy.'”

Fallon also found inspection limitations had been deleted.

He called the owner of the software and was told there was no systemwide problem.

Fallon instructed all flights to be grounded until the information could be restored.

“Between the time the data was altered and fixed, it was a situation that could have endangered human life,” Fallon wrote in a sworn affidavit.

Fallon identified two suspects: A man who had been the Director of Maintenance for MFT before being fired in November of 2019, and his daughter, Lauren Lide, 26, who resigned from her job as Flight Operations Manager the same day her father was fired.

Investigators found that a login belonging to the current flight operations manager was used to make the dangerous changes in the flight software. However, the current flight operations manager signed an affidavit stating he did not modify/delete aircraft information.

Investigators determined that the IP address used to log into the software belonged to Lauren Lide’s father. Lide’s father stated he “didn’t have a clue” why his computer had been used to access the MFT computer.

Pressed on if he knew anyone that would want to sabotage the computer information, he said, “I’m kinda concerned about my daughter at this point.”

Lide’s father stated that Fallon made his daughter “miserable” and “lied to her.”

“She couldn’t wait to get out of there,” he said, according to an affidavit. “You guys don’t understand the torment he put her through.”

Lide’s father finally “confessed” to sabotaging the computers, but police say he was unable to say what he did or how he did it.

Detectives determined “Lauren Lide is one of only a few people in the area who had the knowledge, skills and ability to alter” the flight records.

She has been charged with accessing a computer electronic device without authority and modifying computer data programs without authority.

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